Ecclesiasticus 4:28

"Fight to the death for truth, and the Lord God will war on your side."

Ora pro nobis,

Most Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Francis de Sales, St. Thomas Aquinas, and St. Dominic. Amen.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Response to CQ--The New Birth Experience

This instalment is a little more difficult, because what we have here is a subtle blend of truth with error. You know, just the way the Devil likes it: enough truth to be convincing, but enough error to leave us confused or misled.

So let's examine this chapter, and sort the truth from the error, proclaiming the truth and correcting the error. You know, the reason why the Devil doesn't like me!

A note about CQ's article on the New Birth. This organisation takes a very non-sacramental view of baptism throughout, and in so doing, distinguishes baptism from the "second birth." However, Catholic theology is fully sacramental, believing that baptism is not simply a symbolic ritual, but that it actually does confer the graces that it symbolises. Namely, baptism is how one is "born again." Interestingly, almost all of the scripture passages that marshalls in its defence refer to baptism.

As usual,'s words will be in blue, and mine will be in white.

Chapter 8: Be Careful of Protestant Teachings
The New Birth Experience

In 1977 when the Philadelphia Conference was held at Wheaton College, Illinois, the main speaker and founder of these conferences presented an interesting, but certainly non-biblical, concept of the new birth experience. He stated that the new birth and conversion were different events in our Christian experience. "Conversion," said the theologian, "took place well before the new birth experience." He explained that conversion was the insemination (or seed sowing) of truth--which took place at the beginnings of our spiritual life. To illustrate he pointed to the length of gestation (time between conception and birth) in human beings and animals as an indication that conversion comes well before we are "born again." But this analogy cannot be accepted as truth because Jesus said otherwise.

Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God (John 3:3).

Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God (John 3:5).
This exposition of the gospel by Jesus includes forgiveness and character change.

While I'm not sure about equating the "new birth experience" with a conversion=conception, new-birth=birth analogy, part of me wonders whether's major problem here is with the labels the speaker gave to these realities, rather than with the theology itself. Personally, I would not refer to the interior transformation that God begins to work in one's life before he is "born again" as "conversion," but I will not deny that this process occurs. However, when in a person's life this occurs, and how long it takes, surely varies from person to person.

The "exposition of the Gospel by Jesus" to which CQ refers is, as I mentioned above, specifically a reference to baptism. This was the unanimous interpretation of the Early Church Fathers, of "born of water and Spirit." In baptism, performed with water, we receive the Holy Spirit, have our sins washed away, and become new creatures in Christ. is right, therefore, to assert that the New Birth includes forgiveness and character change: That's what it is all about.

Again, though, I might suggest that what the speaker at the Philadelphia Conference of 1977 might have meant by "conversion" is what theologians term "prevenient grace", which is God's giving of grace to a person to ready them for and draw them to salvation.

John the Baptist declared that the new birth includes forgiveness and the infilling of the Holy Ghost.
I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire (Matthew 3:11).
When we are converted we experience the new birth.

While nothing stated here is wrong per se, the line of thought following seems to combine the notion of the "new birth" (baptism) with the "baptism of the Holy Spirit", which is a rather different thing. In our water baptism, we do receive the Holy Spirit, and are thus born again--which sets Trinitarian Baptism apart from the baptism of John, but again, this is a different thing from what CQ seems to be discussing below:

Just as surely, the baptism of the Holy Spirit pinpoints sanctification--growing in holiness, for it is the Holy Spirit which sanctifies unto obedience and perfection of character.
And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him (Acts 5:32).
I am not entirely sure what CatholicQuest is trying to say here, by saying that the Holy Spirit's presence in a life "pinpoints" growing in holiness (or, for that matter, how Acts 5:32 relates to that point). To "pinpoint" something means to specify a precise moment when it occurred, or the precise means by which something occurred. How does one then "pinpoint" growth? The sanctification of the Christian is an ongoing endeavour as he responds to the grace that the Holy Spirit within him brings, enabling him to live for God.

Yet many Protestant spokesmen greatly de-emphasize the transformation of character resulting from the new birth.

I can agree with that.

While Christ is the central focus of the New Testament, it is His saving and transforming power in the lives of all who believe in Him, which is emphasized as the result of the new birth experience.
Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever (1 Peter 1:22,23).
This new birth encompasses the whole of the "in Christ" experience that leads to a newness of life.
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Paul especially emphasizes that transformation of character is the sure product of conversion.
For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature (Galatians 6:15).
This is precisely the Catholic teaching, and why the Protestant notion of "imputed righteousness" is false. God actually causes us to be holy, as we respond to His grace through our faith working in love (Galatians 5:6).

In Paul's letter to Titus, while denying that our works have anything to do with our salvation, nevertheless, he clearly related our new birth to regeneration and the renewal of our life.
Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost (Titus 3:5).
The ordinance of baptism is the symbol of the washing away of sin and coming to newness of life.

St. Paul is not saying that our works have nothing to do with our salvation. The Bible never teaches that, anywhere. What Paul is saying is that our own righteous deeds did not cause Jesus to come and save us, nor did they make us worth saving, as though we on our own merited the new birth. It is only through God's Grace that we are saved, but we must respond to that grace through our faith and works in order to appropriate that salvation.

Notably, though, Titus 3:5 is, in my mind, the second clearest passage in all of Scripture that points to the fact that baptism is what the Bible teaches as the New Birth: That is what "the washing of regeneration" refers to: or as the New Jerusalem Bible puts it,
It was not because of any upright actions we had done ourselves; it was for no reason except his own faithful love that he saved us, by means of the cleansing water of rebirth and renewal in the Holy Spirit.
It hardly gets any clearer than that: baptism is not simply a symbolic representation of the new birth; it is the new birth!
They refused to believe long ago, while God patiently waited to receive them, in Noah's time when the ark was being built. In it only a few, that is eight souls, were saved through water. It is the baptism corresponding to this water which saves you now--not the washing off of physical dirt but the pledge of a good conscience given to God through the resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 3:20-21, emphasis mine).
Paul expresses this fact beautifully in the sixth chapter of Romans.
1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? 2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? 4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. 6 knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. 7 For he that is dead is freed from sin (Romans 6:1,2,4,6,7).
This passage clearly sets forth the fact that the new birth includes:

(1) Victory through Christ over sin (verses 2 and 6)

(2) The born-again Christian walks in newness of life (verse 4)
On what grounds does see Romans 6:1-7 as symbolic, rather than literal? It is somewhat interesting that they failed to cite verses three and five:
What should we say then? Should we remain in sin so that grace may be given the more fully? Out of the question! We have died to sin; how could we go on living in it? You cannot have forgotten that all of us, when we were baptised into Christ Jesus, were baptised into His death. So by our baptism into His death, we were buried with Him, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the Father's glorious power, we too should begin living a new life. If we have been joined to Him by dying a death like His, so we shall be by a resurrection like His; realising that our former self was crucified with Him, so that the self which belongs to sin should be destroyed and we should be freed from the slavery of sin. Someone who has died, of course, no longer has to answer for sin.
The bolded text is verses 3 and 5. Notably, they bring a literal force to the text. We were baptised into Christ's death. We have been joined to Him through that baptism. Paul isn't saying that the baptism symbolises that joining, but that it accomplishes it.

Baptism is the public acknowledgement that we have died to sin and become alive to forgiveness and the sanctifying power of Jesus Christ. Thus it was Jesus who declared that salvation is predicated upon genuine belief and baptism.
He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned (Mark 16:16).
Baptism is much more than a "public acknowledgement". It is the New Birth itself, and the entry into the New Covenant in Christ.

Protestants who do not practice adult, believer baptism by immersion but rather practice infant baptism are rejecting the principles of Christ and His Word.

Here again (along with the bulk of this article) is definitive proof that is not Catholic. Not only do Catholics believe that Baptism is not merely a symbol, but we absolutely practice infant baptism. And lest we think that's tract, "Be Careful of Protestant Teachings" is simply a Reductio ad Absurdum for Protestantism's claim to "Sola Scriptura", CQ goes beyond simply saying that those who practice Infant Baptism are not practicing Sola Scriptura, but in fact have rejected the principles of Christ Himself!

It would be nice, of course, if they argued their point, rather than simply asserting it, but whatever. But if believer's baptism is the only valid form, then why was this not taught from the very beginning? Rather, infant baptism was practiced abundantly in the early church! Biblically, Jesus commanded that even children be allowed to come to Him--and Luke includes infants in that tale. The term "infant" in the Greek refers to babies who are still too young to speak (Luke 18:15-17. In rejecting infant baptism, is acting just as the disciples did--whom Jesus rebuked!). In Acts 17:33, Paul and Silas baptise the Philippian Jailer and his whole family! It does not tell us that they all expressed their faith--they were baptised under his headship. Moreover, it is very likely that there were children and babies in that family. Further, in Colossians 2:11-12 equates baptism with Jewish Circumcision, as entrance into the New Covenant. Thus, just as Hebrew children were circumcised as babies, so too are children of Christian parents. In fact, the only controversy in the Early Church about whether to baptise infants was not yes or no, but when? Do we wait the eight days that were required for circumcision, or not? The Church unanimously voted, "No--do it as soon as possible!"
"As to what pertains to the case of infants: You [Fidus] said that they ought not to be baptized within the second or third day after their birth, that the old law of circumcision must be taken into consideration, and that you did not think that one should be baptized and sanctified within the eighth day after his birth. In our council it seemed to us far otherwise. No one agreed to the course which you thought should be taken. Rather, we all judge that the mercy and grace of God ought to be denied to no man born" (St. Cyprian of Carthage, Letters 64:2 [A.D. 253]).
These are issues that have never been thoroughly addressed by the majority of Protestants. Scripture is absolutely adamant on these issues. The Bible teaches that those who are born again have victory over sin in their lives.
Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God (1 John 3:9).

We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not (1 John 5:18).
These great salvation principles were shared by Paul to the Roman believers.
Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live (Romans 8:12,13).
Once again there is no Biblical evidence of salvation while living in sin. We see that salvation is provided through the love and power of Jesus. This theme is reiterated in many parts of the Pauline presentations.
If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God (Colossians 3:1-3).
It is essential that all reassess the centrality of the new-birth experience to salvation. There must be no continuing denial that conversion is the new-birth experience. There must be an understanding that the new-birth experience encompasses both our forgiveness and victory over sin. Through the death and ministry of Jesus we may have forgiveness of sins and victory over sin in our lives.

This may at first be difficult, but let us not forget that every command of Jesus comes with His loving strength and power to fulfill that command.

Here, teaches in line with the Catholic Church, about the importance of rejecting sin and living in Grace. Falling into Mortal Sin does indeed kill the life of Grace within us, requiring the Sacrament of Penance to restore us to our Covenant Relationship with God. We cannot ever believe the error that we are saved despite our sinfulness. All quibbling over "conversion" aside, the Bible teaches the necessity and the power of baptism in our lives. Let us therefore continue to consider ourselves as dead to sin but alive for God in Christ Jesus (Romans 6:13).

(Category: The Church: Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus--The Church and other Christian denominations.
Soteriology: Salvation.
Catholic Distinctives: Sacraments--Baptism.)

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Response to CQ--Christ, Our Full Salvation

This chapter from is the final one in the booklet delivered to my mom's mailbox (though it is not the final chapter on their website, nor the final chapter that I'll respond to). It is also one with which I have pretty much zero disagreement. That makes my job a lot easier in replying to it. As such, the format will be slightly different than usual. Yes, their words will still be in blue, and mine in white, but basically, I'll post their entire article without commenting on it (or at least, very little comments), and then, at the end, I'll add to it.

Chapter 7: Be Careful of Protestant Teachings
Christ, Our Full Salvation

With such a strong emphasis upon the sacrifice of Jesus on Calvary, and its centrality to human salvation, it is surprising that most Protestants have little understanding of the High-Priestly ministry of Jesus Christ. The book of Hebrews, particularly, expounds in great detail the ministration of Christ in the heavenly sanctuary. In this book we discover many aspects of Christ's heavenly-sanctuary ministry that enhance our knowledge of the principles of salvation. Other biblical writers also elucidate Christ's High-Priestly ministry.

Actually, in defence of my Protestant friends and family, and on behalf of my own Protestant upbringing, I would contend with this point. It is not so much that Protestants have an incomplete understanding of Christ's priestly ministry per se, but more that they have an incomplete understanding of Covenant, which in turn leads to the limited understanding of the priesthood. As such, below provides no new key understanding to Christ's ministry, but rather ends this chapter just as the going gets good, which is why rather than replying to it, I'm adding to it instead.

(1) Christ is our sacrifice.

But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God (Hebrews 10:12).
(2) He is our High Priest.
But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building (Hebrews 9:11).
3) He is our Advocate.
My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous (1 John 2:1).
(4) He is our Mediator.
For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus (1 Timothy 2:5).
(5) He is our Intercessor.
Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors (Isaiah 53:12).
(6) He is our Judge.
I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick [living] and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom (2 Timothy 4:1).

For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son (John 5:22).
It will be noted that at least six terms are used in the Scriptures to define the High-Priestly ministration of Christ: Sacrifice, Advocate, Mediator, Intercessor, High Priest and Judge. The High-Priestly ministry of Christ is essential to rounding off our concepts of the salvation acts of God for the human race.

It will be recalled that the tabernacle in the wilderness and the temple in Jerusalem were symbols and types of the heavenly sanctuary, and the priesthood was a type of Christ's ministry.
And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them. According to all that I shew thee, after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall ye make it (Exodus 25:8,9).
Exodus, chapters twenty-five through twenty-seven, provide precise details of the earthly tabernacle. That the earthly sanctuary was but a type of the heavenly, and that the ministry of the High Priest is but a type of the heavenly ministry of Jesus Christ is declared in the book of Hebrews.
...We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; a minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man.... For if he were on earth, he should not be a priest, seeing that there are priests that offer gifts according to the law: Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount (Hebrews 8:1-5).
Protestants proclaim that the cross is the center of our faith and they are correct in so doing. However, the sacrifice of Jesus, without the emphasis upon the High-Priestly ministry of Jesus, provides an incomplete understanding of all that Jesus has and is accomplishing for the salvation of His people.

Paul links the sacrifice of Christ with His High-Priestly ministry and its relationship to our salvation.
But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us (Hebrews 9:11,12).
Sorry, I have to interject here, just to point out that most likely St. Paul did not in fact write the epistle to the Hebrews, and in fact, no one knows who did.

His ministry is wonderfully detailed in the same chapter.
It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us (Hebrews 9:23,24).
Thus, Christ is ministering in the courts of heaven today on behalf of his people. The sacrificial atonement accomplished on the cross is completed in the heavenly sanctuary above. Everything that Jesus did on Calvary and He now is accomplishing in the heavenly sanctuary is essential and pivotal to our salvation.

If He had not been born a babe in Bethlehem, we could not be saved. If He had not lived a perfect life upon the earth, we could not be saved. If He had not died the death of reconciliation, we could not be saved. If He had not been resurrected from the dead, we could not be saved. If He had not ascended to His Father in heaven, we could not be saved. If He were not now our ministering High Priest, we could not be saved. If He did not return to take home His faithful people, we could not be saved.

The understanding of the High-Priestly ministry of Christ gives us a clearer picture of the total commitment of God through Jesus for the salvation of men and women. It helps us to understand the justification of God's people. It helps us to understand sanctification and the eradication of sin from God's people. It helps us to understand the time gap between Christ's death and His Second Coming.

I'm not entirely sure in what way Christ's high-priestly ministry helps explain the time gap between His first and second comings, since His heavenly priestly ministry would take place outside of time and not bound by time. But other than that, I'm good.

Most Protestants have tended to minimize this critical part of the salvation acts of God. Yet as we read through the Old Testament and into the New Testament we discover that the sanctuary service is intimately linked with the sacrificial services which preshadowed both the death and priestly ministry of Jesus Christ. Just as the priest of Old Testament times sprinkled the blood of sacrifices before and in the sanctuary built on earth, so Christ in the heavenly sanctuary is sprinkling the blood of His sacrifice for the forgiveness and cleansing of the human race.

I'll add my comments here, and allow to have the last word, since I couldn't state their conclusion any more truly or eloquently.

In the above paragraph, criticises Protestants for minimising the priestly aspect of Christ's sacrifice and salvation acts, and yet, in this article, I fail to see how CQ is not itself guilty of the same. Let me explain:

Above, listed 6 key roles of Christ as our high priest and our sacrifice: 1) Sacrifice, 2) Advocate, 3) Mediator, 4) Intercessor, 5) High Priest and 6) Judge. I would add a Seventh: Jesus Christ is our Passover Lamb. Now, one could suggest that by calling Him the Passover Lamb, I'm merely specifying what sort of Sacrifice Jesus was, and really am restating the first point. If that is true, it is because has incompletely treated that aspect, or else incorrectly treated it. Again, it comes down to the idea of Covenant (which, as I said, is a concept that is often overlooked in Protestant circles, and, when we deal with CQ's treatment of baptism, seems to be rather lacking with them, as well).

Rather than discussing at great lengths the idea of the Covenant, I will zoom in on that part that is contained within the idea of the Passover. When God, in the book of Exodus, liberated His people from the oppression of Egypt, He did so through a great display of His power, in the form of 10 plagues. After each plague, however, the wicked Pharaoh refused to let the Israelites go. That is, until the 10th plague. During the 10th plague, God unleashed His angel of death to strike down the firstborn male children in Egypt. The only way to save your oldest son, was to celebrate the Passover. The instructions for celebrating the Passover are found in Exodus 12:
Yahweh said to Moses and Aaron in Egypt, 'This month must be the first of all the months for you, the first month of your year. Speak to the whole community of Israel and say, "On the tenth day of this month each man must take an animal from the flock for his family: one animal for each household. If the household is too small for the animal, he must join with his neighbour nearest to his house, depending on the number of persons. When you choose the animal, you will take into account what each can eat. It must be an animal without blemish, a male one year old; you may choose it either from the sheep or from the goats. You must keep it until the fourteenth day of the month when the whole assembly of the community of Israel will slaughter it at twilight. Some of the blood must be put on both doorposts and the lintel of the house where it is eaten. That night, the flesh must be eaten, roasted over the fire; it must be eaten with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. Do not eat any of it raw or boiled in water, but roasted over the fire, with the head, feet and entrails. You must not leave any of it over till the morning: whatever is left till morning you must burn. This is how you must eat it: with a belt round your waist, your sandals on your feet and your staff in your hand. You must eat it hurriedly: it is a Passover in Yahweh's honour. That night, I shall go through Egypt and strike down all the first-born in Egypt, man and beast alike, and shall execute justice on all the gods of Egypt, I, Yahweh! The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are. When I see the blood I shall pass over you, and you will escape the destructive plague when I strike Egypt. This day must be commemorated by you, and you must keep it as a feast-day for all generations; this is a decree for all time (Ex 12:1-14).
It was the Passover Lamb that bought back (redeemed) the firstborn sons of Israel. It had to be pure, with no broken bones, and a year old. It had to be killed and its blood sprinkled on the doorway. Finally, it had to be eaten. If these things were not carried out, then the firstborn child was forfeit and would be killed. Notably, this feast was to be commemorated for all time. The Covenant between God and His children was renewed in this fashion.

Fast forward nearly 2000 years, and we come to Jesus Christ, whom St. John the Baptist called "The Lamb of God (John 1:36). Jesus lived a life without sin (without blemish), ministered for one year, and died at the Passover. St. John even tells us that Jesus was condemned to death at the moment when the sacrificial passover lambs were being slaughtered (John 19:14). More, John tells us that while the other two thieves with Jesus had their legs broken so as to die and come down from their crosses before the Sabbath, Jesus did not, since He had already died: "When they came to Jesus, they saw he was already dead, and so instead of breaking his legs, one of the soldiers pierced his side with a lance; and immediately there came out blood and water.... Because all this happened to fulfil the words of scripture: 'Not one bone of his body will be broken'" (John 19:33-34,36). Jesus sprinkled His blood upon the Cross, the door of our salvation. But there is more. The blood of the lamb on the doorpost wasn't enough to fulfil the life-saving action of the Passover. The lamb had to be eaten; and as the Passover was drawing near, Jesus taught the crowds that "if you do not eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Anyone who does eat my flesh and drink my blood has eternal life, and I will raise that person up on the last day. For my flesh is real food, and my blood is real drink" (John 6:4, 53-55).

The night before He died, Jesus showed His disciples just what He meant by that teaching: "Then he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, 'This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.' He did the same with the cup after supper, and said, 'This cup is the new covenant in my blood poured out for you'" (Luke 22:19-20).

In the Eucharist, we celebrate this same event--the event of our salvation! But it is not simply a memorial, as the original Passover was. Instead, it goes beyond that, as we receive Jesus Himself, as His sacrifice on our behalf is represented to us, so that we might participate in the Once-For-All Sacrifice of the Cross, and appropriate its saving power to our lives! As rightly points out above, "Thus, Christ is ministering in the courts of heaven today on behalf of his people. The sacrificial atonement accomplished on the cross is completed in the heavenly sanctuary above. Everything that Jesus did on Calvary and He now is accomplishing in the heavenly sanctuary is essential and pivotal to our salvation." This is why St. John, in his Revelation, describes Jesus as "a Lamb standing that seemed to have been sacrificed" (Rev. 5:6). Jesus continually presents before the Throne the one-time sacrifice on the Cross, and in the Mass, through the Eucharist, we are taken before that same Throne and receive Jesus Himself from the Heavenly Altar! In the Eucharist, the fullness of Jesus' Seven Priestly Duties are fulfilled and applied to our lives:

He is our Sacrifice; He is our Advocate; He is our Mediator; He is our Intercessor; He is our High Priest; He is our Judge; He is our Passover.
For our Passover has been sacrificed, that is, Christ; let us keep the feast, then, with none of the old yeast and no leavening of evil and wickedness, but only with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
How wonderful is the love of God and the ministry of His Only-Begotten Son. The more we plumb the depths of divine salvation, the more the matchless love of God and Christ reaches our hearts and "We love him, because he first loved us" (1 John 4:19).

(Category: The Church: Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus--The Church and other Christian denominations.
Catholic Distinctives: The Sacraments--The Eucharist.)

Thursday, August 24, 2006

In Defense of the Ontological Argument

St. Anslem's Ontological Argument asserts that God is the perfect ground for all conception and all reality, so-much-so that the denial of His existence is logically impossible. Therefore, God exists.

Historically, St. Anselm’s argument was held to be untenable. Gaunilo, monk of Marmoutier, responded with his famous On Behalf of the Fool, in which he protests that the conception of a thing does not necessitate its reality. Moreover, Gaunilo charges that people refer to those things they already know (men are known by the characteristics that men have), but the conception of a supreme essence that is greater than all is not something that any person can refer to on their own. Therefore, “one might more appropriately say that it cannot be understood not to exist and cannot be understood even to be able not to exist.”[1] Knowing, for Gaunilo, implies a certainty that understanding does not: one can understand the existence of another person in a different country, but that in no way means that one knows that other person actually exists. To that end, Gaunilo does not deny that St. Anselm’s argument carries a certain force with it, but asserts that it must be “more cogently argued.”[2]

To wit, the main challenge to the Ontological Argument can be summed up by the simple phrase “it assumes that all ideas have their parallel in reality.”[3] To say this, however, places reverse emphasis on the direction of the Ontological Argument, and ultimately ends in circularity. The Ontological Argument moves from a direction of cause to effect, conception to concretion, but the popular contention that reality contains the parallels of the ideas moves from effect to cause, concretion to conception, and thereby slips the limits of St. Anselm’s a priori intentions.

What St. Anselm was describing was that there is no parallel in reality to a supreme God, for that would make the physical parallel God and not the Christian deity. Therefore, God is wholly beyond parallel in both humanity’s conception of the supreme deity, and in the observable world around us. However, for God to be perfect, He had to really exist, free from parallels, in order to be God. God is His own cause, and our understanding of His supremacy beyond reality and human conception is the effect of His truly being real.

Moreover, if all ideas are paralleled in reality, then reality can be said to be the reflection of an idea. Who conceived the idea then? Certainly not contingent beings who need the reality they exist in to survive! Presumably then, God, who is beyond parallel in conception and reality must have conceived the idea of reality. So unless one is willing to admit to St. Anselm’s a priori assertion, one ends up with an ineffective argument that reads something like this: ideas have their parallel in reality, ergo reality is composed of ideas. Nothing is ventured and nothing is gained from such speedy trips around Pi (π).

© Christopher J. Freeman

[1] Hopkins, Jasper and Herbert Richardson, ed. & trans. Anselm of
V.I, 120
[2] Ibid., 120
[3] Dr. William Mundt, “Fundamental Arguments for God’s Existence” Concordia Lutheran Theological Seminary, November 30th, 2004.

(Category: Theology Proper: God in General.)

Friday, August 18, 2006

Response to CQ--The Lord's Day

Here is the chapter from "Be Careful of Protestant Teachings" that makes me most sure that this group is actually Seventh Day Adventist, since worshipping on Saturday as opposed to Sunday is a defining characteristic of the Seventh Day Adventists (hence their name). However, it's also the chapter that almost explicitly has claiming to be Catholic! This is most bizarre!

Anyway, I can hardly fathom the need to argue the point of Sunday Worship, but here we go.

As usual, my words are in white, and those of will be blue.

Chapter 6: Be Careful of Protestant Teachings
The Lord's Day

Central to Christian worship is the Lord's day. This is a special day of rest from secular pursuits and a day of special worship to God. The keeping of the Lord's day as holy has been all but lost to most Protestants.

Sadly, this could equally be said of Catholics as well (and, for that matter, I'm sure it could be said of adherents to CatholicQuest's unnamed affiliation--so I'm not sure what relevance this point has, especially since it has nothing at all to do with the question of Saturday or Sunday).

Up until the twentieth century almost all sincere Protestants refrained from all secular work and pleasure giving the day to public worship and study of God's Word.

Up until the 20th Century, all Protestants also believed that Birth Control was sinful, as well.

This sentence also seems to be overstating the zeal for the Sabbath that is necessary: "refrained from all secular work and pleasure...". The Sabbath is a day of rest, and rest is pleasurable (at least to me)--or is it "sacred pleasure"? Either way, restricting it so narrowly seems to me to be just the Pharisaical attitude toward the Sabbath that Jesus Himself condemned.

For centuries the first day of the week, Sunday, has been acknowledged as the Lord's day, the day of special worship by Protestants.

And for about 1500 years before Protestantism, it was acknowledged as the Lord's day, the day of special worship by Catholics!

But in this custom there is a great dilemma. There is not the slightest evidence in Holy Scripture that the first day of the week is the Lord's day.

If, as this group keeps insisting on, they are trying to poke holes in Protestantism's claim to follow Sola Scriptura, then they could make a case. However, if they are advising us to follow Sola Scriptura (as they have also been doing throughout) in order to tell us to worship on Saturday instead, they again demonstrate that they are indeed not Catholic, since we do not adhere to that rule of faith.

The common starting point for declaring the Lord's day to be Sunday is in the book of Revelation.

I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet (Revelation 1:10).
It was several years later that John the Revelator wrote the gospel of John.

Well, I guess that depends on who you ask. I personally hold that The Gospel of John was written before Revelation. So that's a moot point.

The surprising thing is that he, in depicting the resurrection of Jesus, does not refer to Sunday as the Lord's day. Rather, well over fifty years after the crucifixion, he refers to it simply as "The first day."
The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre (John 20:1).
And? The reason Christians worship on Sunday (the first day of the week) instead of Saturday is precisely that--it's when Jesus rose from the dead! Catholics view every Sunday of the year as a mini Easter celebration!

The other three gospel writers did exactly the same.
In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre (Matthew 28:1).

And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun (Mark 16:2).

And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the sabbath day according to the commandment. Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them (Luke 23:56;24:1).
Again, their narrative record is irrelevant to when we worship--except to indicate that our worship is on Sunday because that's the day of the Resurrection. The fact that they didn't refer to "the first day" as "the Lord's day" is irrelevant. Notably, they didn't refer to the sabbath as "the Lord's day" in any of those passages, either.

We cannot find any statement by Paul or the other New Testament writers that the Sabbath day had changed from pre-Christian times.

This is just patently false:
On the first day of the week we met for the breaking of bread. Paul was due to leave the next day, and he preached a sermon that went on until the middle of the night...Then he went back upstairs where he broke the bread and ate and carried on talking until he left at daybreak (Acts 20:7, 11).
The "breaking of bread" in the book of Acts is a reference to the celebration of the Eucharist, and a shorthand way of saying they were having Church worship. Compare this with accounts of the Church at the beginning of Acts:
These remained faithful to the teaching of the apostles, to the brotherhood, to the breaking of bread, and to the prayers ...Each day, with one heart, they regularly went to the Temple but met in their houses for the breaking of bread (2:42, 46a).
Notably, the very birthday of the Church was on a Sunday: Pentecost Sunday (Acts 2:1), which was celebrated 50 days after Passover (that's 7 sabbaths plus a day if you're counting).

In 1 Corinthians 16:2, Paul instructs the church to gather their collections to aid the church in Jerusalem on "the first day of the week." Why? Probably because he knew it was the primary day for celebrating the Eucharist, and most people would be there. (Notably, in the Catholic Church today, even though we have daily Mass, we still only take up the collection on Sunday!) Therefore, we see that the Mass was celebrated on Sunday (indeed, in the early Church, just as today, it was celebrated every day). Thus saying that there is no biblical evidence for it is false.

Jesus made Himself plain on this matter.
Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath (Mark 2:28).
Here's what those in the Hermeneutics community call "eisegesis", or "reading into Scripture." When Jesus is talking about being Lord of the Sabbath, He isn't there affirming that we should worship Him on the Sabbath, or even primarily on the Sabbath. He's saying that the Sabbath belongs to Him rather than He being ruled by it. The Pharisees were complaining that He was "doing work" on the Sabbath, and He was justifying Himself. This passage cannot be taken in any way to be saying what wants it to say.

Immediately preceding this declaration Jesus declared that the Sabbath was not made for the Jews, but for man (humankind).
And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath (Mark 2:27).
This again is more eisegesis, because in this passage, Jesus is nowhere contrasting the Jews with all men, but rather is saying that the Sabbath was instituted to benefit humanity, not humanity created to be slaves to the Sabbath day.

Not only did Paul regularly worship in the synagogues, he took his converts there.
And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures (Acts 17:2).

And he reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks (Acts 18:4).
If excels at any one thing, it's pulling verses out of context. Paul's custom to visit the Synagogue on the Sabbath was not simply to worship, but primarily to preach the Gospel of Christ to the Jews there. So why did he always go on the Sabbath? That should be evident--because the Jews would be there! Paul always went to the Jews first, and when they rejected the Gospel, then he would turn to the Gentiles.

If these verses prove the necessity of worshipping on Saturday, then they also demonstrate the necessity of Synagogue worship with the Jews. I wonder if that's's practice?

The Sabbath commandment also identified the Sabbath as the Lord's day.
But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God . . . (Exodus 20:10).
There is no scriptural validation for the claim that the Lord's day is the first day of the week, for neither Christ nor His disciples declared that a change of the day had occurred.

Yes, in the Old Covenant, the Sabbath was indeed the Lord's Day. However, the Psalmist said, "This is the day which Yahweh has made, a day for us to rejoice and be glad" (Psalm 118:24). He does not specify what day that was. However, in the two verses preceeding v. 24, he utters a prophecy of the Messiah often quoted in the New Testament:
The stone which the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
This is Yahweh's doing,
and we marvel at it.
This is the day which Yahweh has made,
a day for us to rejoice and be glad.
Thus, the "day" is the day when God made the stone rejected by the builders into the Chief Cornerstone. On what day was this? The Cornerstone was rejected on Good Friday, in the Crucifixion. But God raised Him up on Easter Sunday. This is the day which the Lord has made, a day for us to rejoice and be glad!

Further, in Romans 14, St. Paul directly addresses the issue of special days of religious observance:
Give a welcome to anyone whose faith is not strong, but do not get into arguments about doubtful points...And who are you, to sit in judgement over somebody else's servant? Whether he deserves to be upheld or to fall is for his own master to decide; and he shall be upheld, for the Lord has power to uphold him. One person thinks that some days are holier than others, and another thinks them all equal. Let each of them be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who makes special observance on a particular day observes it in honour of the Lord (Romans 1, 4-6a, emphasis mine).
It is evident from Paul's thought here that a) we shouldn't even be debating this point (!), and b) that he seems to think that the "weaker believer" is the one reserving a particular day as holy, whereas strong believers (of whom we assume Paul counts himself) holds days all equal in Christian liberty!

Hence, whether we worship on Saturday, Sunday, or every day is not as important as the fact that we worship!

Jesus was a faithful and regular Sabbath keeper.
And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read (Luke 4:16).
Jesus was also a faithful Jew, who fulfilled Jewish laws and practices. Ironically, though, Jesus' "sabbath-keeping" was one of the most frequently attacked practices of His--in that nobody seemed to think that He did keep the Sabbath!

We also know that the seventh-day Sabbath will be kept by the redeemed saints.
And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the Lord (Isaiah 66:23).
Actually, this verse causes one to wonder about the literacy level of The fact is, this verse says not that in the Messianic age, Christians will keep the Sabbath, but rather, that in the Messianic Age, Christians will worship constantly, from one new moon to the next, and from one sabbath to the next! The fact is, it is the Catholic Church that fulfills this prophecy--we hold mass every day, and it's been said that there is never a moment throughout the world when Mass is not being celebrated!

We can be sure that the Sabbath day was not changed from the seventh day of the week to the first day of the week (from Saturday to Sunday) because, for many centuries after the resurrection of Jesus, the seventh-day Sabbath was faithfully kept by Christians.

I'd like to know what it is that bases this statement on! The fact is that right away Christians began to worship on Sunday, as we'll see in greater detail below. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia's article, Sunday worship became the norm in Apostolic times. Further, the Didache mentions celebrating mass on "The Lord's Day." St. Ignatius in Epistle ad Magnes distinguishes between the Lord's Day and the Sabbath: "no longer observing the Sabbath, but living in the observance of the Lord's Day, on which also Our Life rose again." The epistle of Barnabas also says, "Wherefore, also, we keep the eighth day [i.e. the first of the week] with joyfulness, the day also on which Jesus rose again from the dead." As such, we plainly see that right from the start, Sunday worship was the norm.

It is a shock to some Protestants to realize that Sunday was the counterfeit worship day of paganism, which acknowledged the deity of the sun. The counterfeit day of worship originated in Babylon, and through Babylon it came into Roman paganism, and eventually found its way into Christianity.

Just as in the last chapter, here is engaging in Genetic Fallacy. Moreover, their alleged history is wrong, as well, as naming the first day of the week for the Sun comes to us from ancient Egypt, not Babylon! However, what a particular group did on a particular day of the week has no bearing to Christian worship. We do not, after all, worship on Sunday because we're mimicking the pagans' sun worship, but because Jesus, the "sun of justice" (Malachi 3:20), rose again, "with healing in His rays."

The Christians in the nations of Eastern Asia did not accept Sunday sacredness, for they were protected from Western Christian influence by the Muslim power in the Middle East.

Protected by Muslim power?! Try "persecuted" by Muslim power! Even so, from the above quotes, we know that this simply is not the case, and I really have to wonder where CQ gets its "Facts."

Neither did the Ethiopian Christians keep Sunday, because they also were protected from the Western Christianity by the Muslim control of North Africa. It took many centuries before Christendom, even in Europe, accepted Sunday sacredness. In Spain and England Sunday sacredness was not accepted until the seventh century, and in Wales and Scotland, in the eleventh and twelfth centuries. Protestants who proclaim their acknowledgment of the lordship and sovereignty of Christ have failed to realize that the keeping of the Sabbath is the greatest acknowledgment of this lordship and sovereignty, for He is Lord of the Sabbath.

This is flat out wrong. Historical texts demonstrate that within the first three centuries, Christians uniformly worshipped on Sunday. The only argument was over just how rigorous would the following of Sabbath laws be for Christians--which was also decided much earlier than would indicate! Again, I refer you to the Catholic Encyclopedia's article on Sunday.

Many Protestant leaders have acknowledged the truth of the Roman Catholic claims.

Catholic claims?! This group is claiming to be Catholic here, and making claims that are contrary to that of Catholic history! No Catholic teaches that we must observe a Saturday Sabbath!
There was and is a commandment to keep holy the Sabbath day, but that Sabbath day was not Sunday. It will be said, however, and with some show of triumph, that the Sabbath was transferred from the seventh to the first day of the week.... Where can the record of such a transaction be found? Not in the New Testament--absolutely not (Edward T. Hiscox, Source Book, pp. 513-514). [Baptist]
I have demonstrated where from the New Testament we justify our Sunday worship. And further, the Tradition of the Church has been unanimous on this issue.
Centuries of the Christian Era passed away before Sunday was observed by the Christian church as the Sabbath. History does not furnish us with a single proof or indication that it was at any time so observed previous to the Sabbatical edict of Constantine in A.D. 321 (Sir William Domville, The Sabbath Or an Examination of the Six Texts, p. 291). [Church of England]
This is utterly foolish, and incredibly easy to refute. Not only did all the texts mentioned above (Didache, St. Ignatius' Ep. ad Magnes, and the Epistle of Barnabas) all teach Sunday Worship, and were all written before Constantine's edict, here, in no uncertain terms, are the words of St. Justin Martyr, from his "Apology", written between AD 153-155:
On the day we call the day of the sun, all who dwell in the city or the country gather in the same place. The memoirs of the apostles and the writings of the prophets are read, as much as time permits. When the reader has finished, he who presides over those gathered admonished and challenges them to imitate these beautiful things. Then we all rise together and offer prayers for ourselves...and for all others, wherever they may be, so that we may be found righteous by our life and actions, and faithful to the commandments, so as to obtain eternal salvation. When the prayers are concluded we exchange the kiss. Then someone brings bread and a cup of water and wine mixed together to him who presides over the brethren. He takes them and offers praise and glory to the Father of the universe, through the name of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and for a considerable time he gives thanks that we have been judged worthy of these gifts. When he has conducted the prayers and thanksgivings, all present give voice to an acclamation by saying: "Amen." When he who presides has given thanks and all the people have responded, those whom we call deacons give to those present the "eucharisted" bread, wine and water and take them to those who are absent (Apology, 1:65-67).
Here then is proof incontrovertable that Mass was primarily celebrated on Sunday, from a text 170 years before Constantine's Sabbatical Edict.

Now it is strange that most Protestants continue to keep the first day of the week and they claim sola scriptura--that is they are following the Bible alone.

There is, as shown, biblical warrant for Sunday worship. But then, as Catholics, that doesn't matter, since we don't subscribe to sola scriptura anyway.

Before the return of Jesus, all faithful Christians will return to Sabbath keeping. The Sabbath commandment alone begins with the word "Remember" because God knew that to a large extent the true Sabbath would be forgotten. From where did Sunday keeping come? History is very plain. The Babylonian pagans kept Sunday as their holy day as did the Roman pagans. As paganism began to embrace the Christian church, the Sabbath was replaced by the pagan counterfeit sabbath--Sunday.

Again, this genetic fallacy is irrelevant to Christianity's Sunday Worship, since our worship is in honour of Christ's Resurrection (which was on a Sunday), and not some pagan holy day.

There are those who argue that the day of worship does not really matter so long as one day in seven is observed.

St. Paul seemed to think so (Romans 14 again).

But when one acknowledges that Satan has a counterfeit for every truth of God, and that the pagan day of worship is Sunday, then no such simplistic answer can be entertained.

This is again absurd. If Jesus had not risen on a Sunday, then maybe there might be something to this! However, because of Jesus' resurrection, there can be no question of ulterior motive in worshipping on Sunday! If anything, Jesus' resurrection once and for all destroys the pagan gods worshipped on that day, and we have the added celebration of that fact to keep in mind in our worship of Him!

As we come to the close of this earth's history, God provides a clarion call for all of His faithful people to acknowledge His creatorship, lordship, sanctification and sovereignty by keeping holy the seventh day of the week. According to biblical principles, that Sabbath is kept from sunset Friday to sunset Saturday.
It shall be unto you a sabbath of rest, and ye shall afflict your souls: in the ninth day of the month at even, from even unto even, shall ye celebrate your sabbath (Leviticus 23:32).
On the ninth day? Wait a minute! I thought the Sabbath was the seventh day! Oh! I see! Leviticus 23:32 isn't talking about the Sabbath at all, but the day of expiation! It's good that CQ can actually quote scriptures that have anything at all to do with what they're saying!

In one of the last messages that will be given to the world there is a call to come back to the worship of the Creator. This is the call that God is making to all earnest Christians today.
Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters (Revelation 14:7).
The Sabbath memorializes creation. Sunday is the pagan counterfeit. Let us all join together in acknowledging the One who created and redeemed us and will take all the faithful to live with Him for eternity.

This passage from Revelation again has nothing to do with Saturday or Sunday worship! Sunday is not a pagan counterfeit--it is the Day of our Lord's Resurrection! This whole chapter of's study of 'Protestant' teachings is woefully inaccurate and unnecessary!

Let us worship God together with His Whole Church throughout the world, always! Particularly, on Sunday.

God bless.

(Category: The Church: Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus--The Church and other Christian denominations)

Monday, August 14, 2006

Response to CQ--The End-Time Judgement

Here we come to's 5th chapter, on the End-Times Judgement. Here is a tricky topic, because we agree on much of what they've written. However, there are a few subtle differences between their theology and Catholic theology. Toward the end of their tract, the subtleties become much more pronounced. As such, my responses will be much less frequent throughout.

Once again,'s tract will be in blue, and my responses are in white.

Chapter 5: Be Careful of Protestant Teachings
The End-Time Judgment

Protestants frequently make much of the white-throne judgment. If, however, at death the soul has gone either to heaven or to hell, then the judgment took place at death.

The Catholic Church makes a distinction between "The Particular Judgement" for each person at death, and "The Last Judgement".


1021 Death puts an end to human life as the time open to either accepting or rejecting the divine grace manifested in Christ.[Cf. 2 Tim. 1:9-10] The New Testament speaks of judgment primarily in its aspect of the final encounter with Christ in his second coming, but also repeatedly affirms that each will be rewarded immediately after death in accordance with his works and faith. The parable of the poor man Lazarus and the words of Christ on the cross to the good thief, as well as other New Testament texts speak of a final destiny of the soul--a destiny which can be different for some and for others.[Cf. Lk 16:22; 23:43; Mt 16:26; 2 Cor 5:8; Phil 1:23; Heb 9:27; 12:23.]

1022 Each man receives his eternal retribution in his immortal soul at the very moment of his death, in a particular judgment that refers his life to Christ: either entrance into the blessedness of heaven -- through a purification [Cf. Council of Lyons II (1274):DS 857-858; Council of Florence (1439):DS 1304- 1306; Council of Trent (1563):DS 1820.] or immediately,[Cf. Benedict XII, Benedictus Deus (1336):DS 1000-1001; John XXII, Ne super his (1334):DS 990.] -- or immediate and everlasting damnation.[Cf. Benedict XII, Benedictus Deus (1336):DS 1002.]
At the evening of life, we shall be judged on our love. [St. John of the Cross, Dichos 64.]


1038 The resurrection of all the dead, "of both the just and the unjust," [Acts 24:15.] will precede the Last Judgment. This will be "the hour when all who are in the tombs will hear [the Son of man's] voice and come forth, those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment." [Jn 5:28-29.] Then Christ will come "in his glory, and all the angels with him.... Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will place the sheep at his right hand, but the goats at the left.... And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life." [Mt 25:31,32,46.]

1039 In the presence of Christ, who is Truth itself, the truth of each man's relationship with God will be laid bare. [Cf. Jn 12:49.] The Last Judgment will reveal even to its furthest consequences the good each person has done or failed to do during his earthly life:
All that the wicked do is recorded, and they do not know. When "our God comes, he does not keep silence."...he will turn towards those at his left hand:..."I placed my poor little ones on earth for you. I as their head was seated in heaven at the right hand of my Father -- but on earth my members were suffering, my members on earth were in need. If you gave anything to my members, what you gave would reach their Head. Would that you had known that my little ones were in need when I placed them on earth for you and appointed them your stewards to bring your good works into my treasury. But you have placed nothing in their hands; therefore you have found nothing in my presence." [St. Augustine, Sermo 18, 4:PL 38,130-131; cf. Ps 50:3.]
1040 The Last Judgment will come when Christ returns in glory. Only the Father knows the day and the hour; only he determines the moment of its coming. Then through his Son Jesus Christ he will pronounce the final word on all history. We shall know the ultimate meaning of the whole work of creation and of the entire economy of salvation and understand the marvelous ways by which his Providence led everything towards its final end. The Last Judgment will reveal that God's justice triumphs over all the injustices committed by his creatures and that God's love is stronger than death. [Cf. Song 8:6.]

1041 The message of the Last Judgment calls men to conversion while God is still giving them "the acceptable time,... the day of salvation." [2 Cor 6:2.] It inspires a holy fear of God and commits them to the justice of the Kingdom of God. It proclaims the "blessed hope" of the Lord's return, when he will come "to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at in all who have believed." [Titus 2:13; 2 Thess 1:10.]
Therefore, while we agree that there is in fact a universal end-times judgement (whose punishment affects us body and soul after the resurrection, Scripture does indicate that immediately on death, each soul receives a particular judgement and corresponding fate (heaven, purgatory, or hell).

Scripture is explicit on this end-time judgment. Paul spoke of it as he talked to the Athenians on Mars hill.
And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness... (Acts 17:30,31).
Paul unquestionably believed the judgment was for all humans.
And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee (Acts 24:25).
This judgment, according to the Scriptures, involves all humanity.
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad (2 Corinthians 5:10).
This end-time judgment is defined in both the Old and the New Testaments. In the prophetic message of Daniel, chapter seven, we find a judgment just before the end of human history. This judgment clearly takes place at a set period of time, and not at the death of each person.
I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire. A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened.... I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him (Daniel 7:9,10,13).
But again, this does not preclude other scriptures that indicate a particular judgement. This again is not an either/or scenario, but a both-and one.

Records of heaven have been kept with unerring accuracy, reflecting the life of every human being, and it is from these records that judgment is made.
And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works (Revelation 20:12).
In this judgment some, whose names have been written in the book of life, are tragically blotted out because sometime during their lives they have turned away from their commitment to God. This fact is plain evidence against the error of "once saved, always saved."
He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels (Revelation 3:5).
On this point, Catholicism and quite agree.

This end-time judgment provides assurance to the inhabitants of the universe that none who would perpetuate sin will inhabit heaven, and that no one surrendered to the will of Christ will be lost.


Paul focused upon this judgment at a time beyond the time in which he lived.
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad (2 Corinthians 5:10).
James also pointed his readers to a future judgment:
So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty (James 2:12).
In Revelation, chapter 14, the context pinpoints the fact that the end-time judgment of verse seven is for the righteous.
And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come... (Revelation 14:6,7).
I'm not sure what is trying to say here: That the universal End-Times judgement includes the righteous, or that it is exclusively for the righteous. Context in Revelation admits the first, but contradicts the second.

God's Word assures us that in the judgment His name will be vindicated. In his great prayer of repentance, David cried out:
Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest and be clear when thou judgest (Psalm 51:4).
Seizing upon this prophetic statement, Paul stated:
God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar, as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged (Romans 3:4).
The end-time judgment not only vindicates God, but also His people.
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life (John 5:24).
It is not difficult to understand why Protestants have found grave difficulty in understanding the fullness of this end-time judgment. It is because they have failed to cast off the pagan concepts of the immortal soul. If immediate life after death were a soundly-based Bible principle, then there would be no need for an end-time judgment.

This is patently not the case. The particular judgement of the soul, does not give its reward or punishment to the body. In a way, it is more like waiting in jail for final sentencing (well, for the damned, anyway), or for a future consummation of reward for a job well done.

The angels do not have infinite knowledge, so God in His tender mercy does not save one person eternally until the angels have had the opportunity to review the records. It is evident that the myriads before the throne are angels participating in this judgment.
A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him [God]: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened (Daniel 7:10).

And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands (Revelation 5:11).
Problem is, the Bible indicates that while the angels are in attendance, and even "ministering to" God, it nowhere says that it is the angels reading the records or doing the judging. Further, assuming that it somehow takes a long time to review these records and that one is not saved or damned until this happens, implies a chronology that does not exist beyond death. Eternity is, after all, not simply "a really really long time", but the absense of time altogether.

It is after the angels have reviewed the records that every human being that has been faithful to Christ will be redeemed into the kingdom of heaven. But not one soul, angelic or human, is destroyed eternally at this time, for there is one group who will inhabit eternity who has not had the opportunity of reviewing the records. This group comprises the redeemed saints. During the millennium they will be sitting in judgment reviewing the records of the lost.
Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? (1 Corinthians 6:2,3).
According to St. Thomas Aquinas, the Angels will not sit in judgement over humanity at all, since they do not possess our human nature, and therefore are not fitting judges. Second, according to the Angelic Doctor, all people will be judged in this General Judgement, not just the good, who later judge the wicked, nor just the wicked, being judged by the good, but all together, though the saints will sit in judgement as assessors. These saints are those redeemed who have already attained perfect sanctification.

See Summa Theologica, Supplement to the Third Part, The Resurrection: Judgement Following the Resurrection, 89 for St. Thomas' treatment.

Biblically speaking, there is no mention that this judgement will be carried out by the righteous over the wicked, by reading the records of deeds throughout the millenial period. Moreover, Apostolic Tradition has consistently maintained that this so-called "Millenial Reign" is, in fact, the Church Age of which we are now a part. Thus, the "millenium" preceeds the Final Judgement.

Before the destruction of the wicked, all God's created beings will have reviewed the records of the lost, and acknowledged the perfect justice of God. It is because of this that the Scripture proclaims that affliction shall not rise a second time.
What do ye imagine against the Lord? he will make an utter end: affliction shall not rise up the second time (Nahum 1:9).
I'm not entirely sure where gets the notion that "all God's created beings" will judge the wicked. Yet, truly, after the final judgement, the Wicked will be punished eternally, and evil will thus be destroyed!

An understanding of the end-time judgment provides a wonderful understanding of the great love and mercy of God in the salvation of His people, consistent with the love and mercy demonstrated on Calvary. In addition, it demonstrates the extent to which our God will go to leave no doubt whatsoever concerning His love and absolute justice throughout the entire universe.


(Category: The Church: Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus--The Church and other denominations.
Soteriology: The Four Last Things--Judgement.)

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Response to CQ--Life After Death

And on we go. In this segment of's tract against Protestant Teachings, they discuss more explicitly something that they had touched on in the earlier chapter about Hell--the idea of Soul-Sleep. They also further tip their hat to the fact that they themselves are not Catholic at all.

As usual,'s words will be in blue, and mine in white.

Chapter 4: Be Careful of Protestant Teachings
Life After Death

In the village of Gazeley in England lies a graveyard on the grounds of the Church of England.

On the gravestone of a seventeenth century tomb are these words: "He sleepeth until Jesus comes." No more than twenty or so paces from that grave is a nineteenth century gravestone on which is inscribed, "At home with the Lord."

These represent two incompatible concepts of life after death. Clearly this Church of England had been greatly influenced by the Reformation, for at that time many Bible-believing rectors were teaching that death was an unconscious state. But, as the years passed, the subsequent rectors reverted to the pre-Reformation concept of immediate life after death and the immortality of the soul.

Here we have evidence that is most definitely not a Catholic site. They criticise this Church of England for allegedly "reverting" to a "pre-Reformation" doctrine. Which doctrines were "pre-Reformation"? Those would be the Catholic ones!

Moreover, CQ makes the unwarranted assumption that "Sleeping until Jesus comes" and "At home with the Lord" are two contradictory statements. They surely seem to be, and yet, as I hope to demonstrate throughout this article, they are not.

It is difficult to understand any believing Christian not recognizing the focus of the New Testament writers upon the Resurrection as the great hope of the Christian.

The problem with CatholicQuest's discussion of life after death is that they're half right. I don't disagree with much of what they say about the Resurrection at all! However, their dichotomy between "The Resurrection at the End" and "souls in heaven or hell now" is not a logically necessary one, and contradicted in Scripture. Thus, throughout this article, many times I agree with what they say. I will try to be expressly clear, though, where the Catholic Church agrees, and where we differ.

The great hope of the Church certainly is the Resurrection--hence the Creed: "I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting. Amen." Yet that same creed, two clauses earlier, states a belief in "the communion of saints", historically understood to mean the communion of all those who are united in Christ, living or dead. The Catechism of the Catholic Church, in paragraph 1475, states:

In the communion of saints, "a perennial link of charity exists between the faithful who have already reached their heavenly home, those who are expiating their sins in purgatory and those who are still pilgrims on earth. Between them there is, too, an abundant exchange of all good things." In this wonderful exchange, the holiness of one profits others, well beyond the harm that the sin of one could cause others. Thus recourse to the communion of saints lets the contrite sinner be more promptly and efficaciously purified of the punishments for sin.
Hence we see that the supreme hope of the Resurrection is not therefore incompatible with a belief in the immortality of the soul.
Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also (John 14:1-3).

For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first(1 Thessalonians 4:16).
Amen! Catholics believe these scriptures 100%. Again, we do not deny the important hope of the bodily resurrection!

If death were the liberation of the soul to live in eternal joy and happiness, then death would be the friend of man.

Here is where CQ goes wrong. They equate all beliefs in the immortality of the soul with this one. This Gnostic view of death is alien to the Christian view, and even those Christians who believe that the soul goes either to heaven, purgatory, or hell at death, recognise that this is only an incomplete state, until the reuniting of the body with the soul in the Resurrection, so that we may be complete and glorified, like Jesus after His Resurrection.

Indeed, the sooner we die the better it would be.

I wonder what this group thinks of St. Paul's words, when he writes:
Life to me, of course, is Christ, but then death would be a positive gain. On the other hand again, if to be alive in the body gives me an opportunity for fruitful work, I do not know which I should choose. I am caught in this dilemma: I want to be gone, and to be with Christ, and this by far is the stronger desire--and yet, for your sake to stay alive in the body is the more urgent need (Philippians 1:21-24, emphasis mine).
Paul actually says he desires death. Why? Because through it, he would be present with Christ!

But the Bible does not treat death as a friend, but as an enemy.
The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death (1 Corinthians 15:26).
And yet, as seen above, Paul regards death as something desirable. How do we reconcile this contradiction? We recognise that while through our deaths, our souls are in heaven, we understand that this fact of death is not the natural order of things, but a consequence of humanity's fall into sin. As such, while there is a good that occurs at death for the sanctified, that death is itself still evil. Further, the good that happens to the sanctified at death, namely, the soul dwelling in the presence of Christ, is a partial and incomplete good, that will only be completed in the Bodily Resurrection. Finally, death is an enemy as well to those who are still alive, for they have been bodily separated from their loved ones. Again, this enemy will be defeated once they are reunited in the Resurrection. As such, death can rightly be regarded as an enemy, and the immortality of the soul can be believed.

The concept of an immortal soul is rooted in paganism. The Greek pagans believed in a soul that eternally preexisted the body; and for a short period of time this good soul was incarcerated in an evil body. This was the basis of the Greek concept that the soul was good and the body was evil. The Greeks joyously looked for the liberation of the soul from the imprisonment of the body.

Here, commits a Genetic Fallacy in this argument. Genetic Fallacy is defined by Wikipedia as:
a logical fallacy based on the irrelevant appraisal of something based on its origin.

It occurs when one attempts to reduce the significance of an idea, person, practice, or institution merely to an account of its origin (genesis) or earlier form. This overlooks any difference to be found in the present situation, typically transferring the positive or negative esteem from the earlier context.

It also fails to assess ideas on their merits. The first criterion of a good argument is that the premises must have bearing on the truth or falsity of the claim in question. Since the origin of a thing has no necessary relevance to its merit, an argument that uses such a premise for accepting or rejecting a claim about the thing in question should be regarded as flawed.

In terms of categorization, the genetic fallacy is a fallacy of irrelevance.
The fact that "Greek Pagans" believed that souls existed from all eternity and were temporarily "incarcerated" in human bodies, awaiting liberation through death (which actually sounds more Gnostic than anything else), is irrelevant to this discussion, because no Christian believes that our souls existed from all eternity and are incarcerated until we are liberated at death. Rather, the Church teaches that God specifically creates each soul at the moment of conception. It also teaches that physical matter and life are good and sacred. These two things completely contradict the "Greek Pagan" philosophy. As such, because pagan Greeks and Catholics both believe in something that could be termed "the immortality of the soul," it is erroneous to assert that Catholics believe the same thing as the Greeks, or that we took that belief from the Greeks.

This concept of immediate life after death far precedes the Greek civilization. The Babylonian kingdom was established by Nimrod. After the flood he became the founder of paganism, the elements of which can be seen in all modern pagan religions. With the abundance of evidence that we have on the issue of mortality and immortality, it would seem unlikely that any Christian could made a mistake; yet this error is deeply tenacious and widespread. The acceptance by Protestants of immediate life after death is perhaps one of the greatest errors, and certainly opens the floodgate toward the spiritism which is rampant within many Christian circles today.

More Genetic Fallacy on top of unproven assertions and conjecture.

The Bible teaches that only God has immortality.
Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; Who only hath immortality... (1 Timothy 6:15,16).
God alone is immortal in the sense of it being an essential quality for Him. For us, the immortality of our souls is contingent upon His having created them (as a distinct quality in humanity to that of animals). The Catechism states:
364 The human body shares in the dignity of "the image of God": it is a human body precisely because it is animated by a spiritual soul, and it is the whole human person that is intended to become, in the body of Christ, a temple of the Spirit:
Man, though made of body and soul, is a unity. Through his very bodily condition he sums up in himself the elements of the material world. Through him they are thus brought to their highest perfection and can raise their voice in praise freely given to the Creator. For this reason man may not despise his bodily life. Rather he is obliged to regard his body as good and to hold it in honor since God has created it and will raise it up on the last day.
365 The unity of soul and body is so profound that one has to consider the soul to be the "form" of the body: i.e., it is because of its spiritual soul that the body made of matter becomes a living, human body; spirit and matter, in man, are not two natures united, but rather their union forms a single nature.

366 The Church teaches that every spiritual soul is created immediately by God - it is not "produced" by the parents - and also that it is immortal: it does not perish when it separates from the body at death, and it will be reunited with the body at the final Resurrection.
Paul teaches that we are mortal until the return of Jesus Christ. Then only will we be clothed with immortality.
Who will render to every man according to his deeds; to them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life (Romans 2:6,7).

For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory (1 Corinthians 15:53,54).
These texts are so clear and closely defined that there is no way in which the pagan concept of the immortal soul can have any credence in Christian teaching.

But again, the Christian understanding of the immortality of the soul is different than the pagan understanding. And the Christian belief in the immortality of the soul is not incompatible with these verses, nor with the doctrine of the resurrection of the body. The fact that the soul survives physical death does not in any way negate the blessed hope of the physical resurrection!

Death is consistently treated in the Bible as a state of unconsciousness, frequently referred to as sleep.
But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13, emphasis added).

Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept (1 Corinthians 15:18,20, emphasis added).
Sleep, in reference to death, is a euphemism much like saying someone has "passed away" in our culture. It cannot be seriously taken to mean that death is just like sleeping (do the dead dream?), any more than saying one has "passed away" implies that they've gone on holidays.

Any idea that the dead might have any conscious awareness of what takes place after their demise is wholly denied by Scripture.
For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten. Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun (Ecclesiastes 9:5,6).

For in death there is no remembrance of thee: in the grave who shall give thee thanks? (Psalm 6:5).

His sons come to honour, and he knoweth it not; and they are brought low, but he perceiveth it not of them (Job 14:21).

His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish (Psalm 146:4).
These four references all share the remarkable attribute of being from the Old Testament. While that's not bad per se, it is important to remember that God's Revelation was progressive throughout history, and that doctrines such as immortality and life after death were rather late developments in Jewish theology and only fully revealed and understood through the revelation brought in Jesus Christ. As such, it is important to realise that these books of the Bible (Job, Psalms, and especially Ecclesiastes) not only have no knowledge of a conscious soul after death, but no knowledge even of a Resurrection! It was not until the time of the prophets that the resurrection began to be revealed.

The Second Coming is the awakening of the saints from their death sleep.
Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead (Isaiah 26:19).
This again affirms the resurrection of the body, about which we all agree. But it says nothing of the state of the soul, nor does it contradict the notion of an immortal soul.

The biblical understanding of man's state in death will protect God's people from the most compelling deceptions that Satan and his angels will bring against them just before the return of Jesus. This deception which today is called Spiritism will result when his evil angels personate dead loved ones or great people of the past claiming that they have come back from heaven to give a message to mankind.

Interestingly, Samuel came back from the dead and gave such a message to Saul in 1 Samuel 28:15-19, and Moses and Elijah appeared, talking to Jesus, at His Transfiguration. Hence, there is biblical precedent for such occurrences as Marian Apparitions, etc. It is the message, and whether that message points us to Christ, rather than the messenger, that is important.

But indeed, that message will be a message of deception from the spirits of the arch-deceiver who present themselves as the departed one. Such deception is increasingly common today. Christians who study the Word and follow its teachings will not be deceived. They will follow the Lord and rebuff any such attempts to deceive them.
But even if we ourselves or an angel from heaven preaches to you a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let God's curse be on him (Galatians 1:8).

This is the proof of the spirit of God: any spirit which acknowledges Jesus Christ, come in human nature, is from God, and no spirit which fails to acknowledge Jesus is from God; it is the spirit of Antichrist, whose coming you have heard of; he is already at large in the world (1 John 4:2-3).
What a privilege it is that, should we die before His coming, we can rest until the return of Jesus and be taken to heaven with Him.
For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Wherefore comfort one another with these words (1 Thessalonians 4:16,18).
What a privelege more, that before we die, we could have a Church, the pillar and foundation of truth, to keep us secure in the true faith, so that we are not led blindly by every wind of doctrine. And when we die, and our bodies await that future resurrection, how tremendous to know that our souls will rest with Christ in paradise, ever worshipping Him and interceding for the rest of the Church!

(Category: The Church: Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus--The Church and other denominations.
Soteriology: The Four Last Things--Death.)

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Response to CQ--Eternal Burning Torment

In the Introduction to this response to, I mentioned how my mother had gotten a booklet from them, and that later I'd found out that the entire booklet was online at their website. I've since come to realise that the booklet comprises only half of what is in "Study #1" at The booklet that my mother received ends after "Christ Our Full Salvation" and before "New Birth." Never fear, dear reader, I will not skimp out on you! I will give you a response to the entire chapter list that I provided in the Introduction!

What I won't do, however, is bother to reply to's second study on the teachings of Christ. Why? Because I hope that I can demonstrate the fact that this group is not Catholic in this response alone, as well as the truth of the Catholic position, without wasting more time. And, mainly, because this series of responses is for my mom, and not simply against

But anyway, on with the show. As always, CQ's words will be in blue, and my own in white.

Chapter 3: Be Careful of Protestant Teachings
Eternal Burning Torment

Most Protestants believe that the punishment of the wicked is eternal burning torment.

We're still talking about (to?) Protestants in this chapter, and very little is mentioned about Catholicism. While it is true to say that most Protestants believe in "eternal damnation and separation from God in Hell" (and so the Catholic Church also teaches: Catechism of the Catholic Church #1033-1037), however, tries to make eternal separation from God into "eternal burning torment," conjuring up ghastly images of torture and cruelty. According to the Catechism, "The chief punishment of hell is eternal separation from God, in whom alone man can possess the life and happiness for which he was created and for which he longs" (CCC 1035). Thus, the suffering of Hell is not the infliction of torment, but the absence of all things good. Moreover, the Church makes it clear that God does not so much send people to Hell, but allows them their choice in rejecting Him: "God predestines no one to go to hell; for this, a wilful turning away from God (a mortal sin) is necessary, and persistence in it until the end" (CCC 1037).

Since this tract seeks to condemn belief in hell, "" is pretty straightforwardly not Catholic. And, since they have misrepresented the teaching of the Church on hell, I am not overly confident in their evidence against it.

In the current climate of thinking it is much less prominently preached but still is believed by many Protestants.

I consider this fact a shame. As Christians, we are called to preach the truth, but often we sugar-coat the harder-to-hear portions, and so millions go without warning.

However, increasingly, Evangelical Christians are questioning it. The basis of this belief is that the soul, some say the spirit, of man is immortal. This belief teaches that the body at death begins to corrupt but the soul continues on its eternal journey. Thus, we would expect to find at least a number of texts in the Scriptures that plainly state that the soul is immortal. Probably the reader will be quite surprised to know that no such text can be found in Scripture. Actually the Bible says the opposite.

Before examining the texts that allegedly contradict the teaching of the immortality of the soul, I want to contend their claim that "no such text can be found in Scripture." If there are no passages describing the soul after death, and especially the soul condemned to hell after death, then what sense are we to make of Jesus' parable of Lazarus and Dives, in Luke 16:19-31? If we have no immortal soul, then to whom did Jesus go, according to 1 Peter 3:18-21 and 4:6? If our souls are dormant until the resurrection, then what did John see under the Altar of Heaven, when he writes, "When he broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of all the people who had been killed on account of the Word of God, for witnessing to it" (Revelation 6:9, emphasis mine)?

Contrary to's assertion that "no such text can be found in Scripture", I could, in fact, multiply examples!

If so, it must be a belief established upon human tradition.

Here, subtly indicates that it is in fact not Catholic with its deriding of "human tradition." However, since Scripture has shown us that the soul survives the death of the body, their assertion is nullified. And yet they continue, claiming in fact that the Bible teaches the very opposite. Let's see:

Here is what the Bible reveals.

Shall mortal man be more just than God (Job 4:17, emphasis added)?
The first thing to note is that Job is considered one of the earliest written of the Old Testament books. In the Old Testament, not only the immortality of the soul, but the very Resurrection which both and Catholics (and Protestants, for that matter) hold in common, were not developed until very late (and not fully so until the advent of Jesus!). Therefore, we would not expect that Job would be able to give us a guided exposition of life after death! What's more, in Job 4:17, it is not Job but Eliphaz, one of his "friends" speaking--one of those three friends whose theology is already askew, which is the whole point of Job! So his testimony can hardly be considered relevant to the case! CatholicQuest might as well have asked Pharaoh's opinion on the matter.
Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body (Roman 6:12, emphasis added).
While Romans is in the New Testament, and the life-after-death theology has developed a lot, the fact remains that this verse is talking about our "mortal body", not mentioning our "immortal soul." As such, it seems to me, that this verse is completely beside the point.

The Scriptures also tells us that God alone is immortal.
Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever (1 Timothy 1:17).
I do not see this verse saying that God alone is immortal, only that there is only one God, and He happens to be immortal.

The Bible reveals that God's redeemed saints will become immortal only when Jesus returns the second time.
For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory (1 Corinthians 15:53,54).
Here there is contradiction. Either only God is immortal, or we will become immortal. For if we can become immortal, then God alone cannot be immortal. If it truly is a clincher point for that only God is immortal, so our souls cannot be, then neither can our mortal bodies ever be.

Further, enjoys employing the word "only", when the text of Scripture does not bear that out. Because at the end of time, our bodies will be resurrected and glorified and reunited with our souls, it does not follow that our souls are therefore not immortal until that point. Death indeed will be swallowed up in victory, because the separation of body and soul (which is our first death) will be reversed and overturned, just as it was for Jesus at His resurrection!

Now if the basic premise of eternal burning torment is false,

An "if" that has not been adequately proven.

then it logically leads to the conclusion that this belief is a dangerous myth.

I believe "dangerous myth" is slightly overstating the case. Rather, if the premise is false, then the conclusion is also false. If CatholicQuest is right, and there is no eternal torment, then my belief in one is no "danger" to me at all! On the other hand, if Catholic teaching on the matter is right, but an unrepentant sinner chooses to believe, and think to himself, "The worst that will happen to me if I reject God is death, and I already believe I'll just die anyway, then bring it!" then in truth it would be their belief, which, if false, is "dangerous." But then, CQ hasn't demonstrated a firm grasp of logic thus far.

Yet there are texts which appear to support eternal torment.
If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God...and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: and the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever (Revelation 14:9-11).
Here John is describing in graphic, symbolic detail the consequences of rejecting God, alluding to the destruction of Sodom and Gommorah, as well as to Isaiah's prophecy of doom for Edom. That people throughout history have taken this description literally in their descriptions of Hell is neither here nor there.

Why does the Bible teach that we are mortal and yet declare "the smoke of their torment ascends for ever and ever".

First of all, the Bible does not teach the former, and the latter, based on the cited passage, is open to some interpretation.

Protestants hold that the Bible is its own best interpreter. So let us follow that principle.

For the record, as a Catholic, I don't agree with this interpretive methodology--for the self-evident reason that using it, I could demonstrate the very opposite conclusion that comes to. But anyway...

Today the term "for ever and ever" means eternally, without end. But that was not true for the Jews. Frequently they used the terms "eternal", "everlasting" or "ever and ever" when they were signifying "until the end" or "until the completion."

According to Thayer's, the phrase in Revelation 14, "eis aion aion", can indeed mean, "for ever, an unbroken age, perpetuity of time, eternity." Therefore, again, it is not at all certain that in this instance, the term means only "until the end" or "until completion."

We must always understand what the Bible meant at the time it was written.

We must also keep in mind that the Bible was inspired by the Spirit of God, and that things may mean more than what the author of them immediately knew.

Here are a couple of examples. Hannah, the mother of the prophet Samuel declared that she was giving Samuel to the Lord to abide for ever at the House of the Lord when she meant as long as he lived.
But Hannah went not up; for she said unto her husband, I will not go up until the child be weaned, and then I will bring him, that he may appear before the Lord, and there abide for ever.... Therefore also I have lent him to the Lord; as long as he liveth he shall be lent to the Lord. And he worshipped the Lord there (1 Samuel 1:22,28, emphasis added).
Except that Hannah would have said these things 1000-odd years before John wrote the Apocalypse. So much for understanding what the Bible meant at the time it was written! I mean, heck, these two books were written 1000 years apart, in two completely different languages!

But in fact, in 1 Samuel 1:22, the phrase used is "'ad 'owlam", and again, according to Thayer's, means "for ever, always; continuous existence, perpetual; everlasting, indefinite or unending future, eternity." In the present context, I would think the best fit might be "indefinite or unending future," but even then, the prayer is obviously hyperbolic and figurative in that regard. Moreover, I'm sure it really was the mother's wish that the son would not only live forever, but dwell in God's house forever. Again, her prayer that Samuel would "appear before the Lord, and there abide for ever" is in fact literally fulfilled according to the Catholic position of things!

Clearer still is a text which addresses the judgment of God concerning the destruction of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed nearly 4,000 years ago according to the Bible record. But what does Jude declare?
Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them...are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire (Jude 7, emphasis added).
Jude did not believed that Sodom and Gomorrah, two cities that once were located near the Dead Sea in Palestine, were still burning.

Certainly not. However, that does not forbid the interpretation that the sinful and unrepentant inhabitants are spiritually suffering the same fate eternally, that their physical cities endured in an instant. Compare the New Jerusalem Bible's rendering: "Sodom and Gomorrah, too, and the neighbouring towns, who with the same sexual immorality pursued unnatural lusts, are put before us as an example since they are paying the penalty of eternal fire." In fact, in either rendering, the "eternality" of the fire may refer not to its inextingishable quality, but to the fact that its origin is from the Eternal God. As such, the fire, which comes from the Eternal (God), punished the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Thus, there are three distinct ways of interpreting Jude 7. Why should's interpretation, which becomes an absurdity, be the correct one?

Because humans do not have immortality until Jesus' second coming,

An unsuccessfully demonstrated premise.

then the Protestant belief of the immortality of the soul is false.

In order to be accepted, the premise must actually be demonstrated.

Here are texts which plainly explain what happens to the wicked. The best known text in the Christian world is very plain.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16, emphasis added).
Jesus plainly states that believers in Him will not perish, which leads to the conclusion that the wicked do perish. The wicked perish eternally, they do not burn eternally.

What is the sense of this: "perish eternally"? How does one perish eternally? Die continuously? And what form does their eternal perishing take, if not fire? Drowning? Burial? A never-ending car-wreck? The Church does not teach literally that souls in hell burn for eternity, but indeed, that they perish eternally because they are separated from God!

Certainly, Paul believed the same message that Jesus taught.
Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power (2 Thessalonians 1:9).
The word for destruction in this text is "olethros". According to Thayer's, "The loss of a life of blessedness after death, future misery" and then refers to 2 Thess 1:9 for this meaning. Hence the more favourable rendering of the New Jerusalem Bible, "Their punishment is to be lost eternally, excluded from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his strength" (emphasis mine). This makes more linguistic sense than "everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord" (how is one "destructed from the presence of the Lord"?) and also lines up perfectly with the official Catholic teaching on Hell.

Yes, there is an eternal finality to the punishment of the wicked. Their death is eternal. Thus the Bible calls the eternal death of the wicked "the second death." wants this to mean that one is destroyed in the second death once, and stays that way for all eternity. That is how they define "their death is eternal." But that is death. If that is the truth, then the biblical writers would have had no reason to describe "eternal" death. They would simply have said, "they die." There is something logically more to the notion of "eternal death".

But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone which is the second death (Revelation 21:8).
So would have us believe that the second death is dying by being thrown into a lake of fire, rather than eternally burning in that lake of fire. Is a God more loving and just to them, who only tortures people for a little while and lets them die, rather than one who doesn't? The problems with this reasoning are two: They are fixated on fire, and they haven't demonstrated that the soul is not immortal and therefore can "just die" in the fire. It is not that God sits there and chooses to prolong the soul's life just to watch it suffer!

Those who believe in eternal punishment usually believe that some humans God created for eternal life and others to burn eternally. Now if we believe in eternal burning torment we have a terrible dilemma because the Bible says "God is love" (1 John 4:8). Surely God could not be a God of love if He brought men and women into this world and then punished them for ever. That would make God a monster beyond anything that human beings could imagine.

Indeed, it would, which is why the Catholic Church rejects that false teaching in paragraph 1037 of the Catechism, quoted above, but here it is again: "God predestines no one to go to hell; for this, a wilful turning away from God (a mortal sin) is necessary, and persistence in it until the end." Hence, the Catholic Church and can agree on this one thing: God is not a monster. He does not create people for Hell.

Many thinking people have rejected the wonderful salvation of Jesus because they have been taught this fearful deception. One of the best known atheists saw this most terrible doctrine for what it was.
Who can estimate the misery that has been caused by this most infamous doctrine of eternal punishment? Think of the lives it has blighted--of the tears it has caused--of the agony it has produced. Think of the millions who have been driven to insanity by this most terrible of dogmas. This doctrine renders God the basest and most cruel being in the universe. Compared with him, the most frightful deities of the most barbarous and degraded tribes are miracles of goodness and mercy. There is nothing more degrading than to worship such a god. Lower than this the soul can never sink. If the doctrine of eternal damnation is true, let me share the fate of the unconverted; let me have my portion in hell, rather than in heaven with a god infamous enough to inflict eternal misery upon any of the sons of men (Robert G. Ingersoll, 1874, Heretics and Heresies: Liberty, A Word Without Which all Words are Vain).
This unfortunate opinion stems from the misinterpretation that God sends people to Hell. Rather, God bends over backwards to keep us from Hell--to the point of becoming a Man and dying for us, so that we could be saved! God desires that no one perish, but still, He leaves that choice to us. Short of forcing us into servitude to Him, what more could He possibly have done?!

No amount of reasoning could ever reconcile this monstrous belief with a God of love.

To the contrary, if God never justly punished the wicked, He would not be loving to those who were wronged by the wicked and were faithful to God. More, God neither makes us for hell, nor does He send us there--we go, if we go, by our own choosing to reject Him. If we reject Him, we obviously go to the one place He is not--and since He is the source of all life, love, peace, happiness, joy, etc., then to be without Him is to suffer.

Thank God that the Bible gives to us the true basis of God's mercy. I wonder how happy we could be in heaven if we knew a loved one was suffering eternally in excruciating agony in the fire of God.

God promises to wipe away every tear (Revelation 21:4), and even promises that the past will be forgotten (Isaiah 65:17)! Thus, it is reasonable that we will not be mindful of those who have rejected God, while in His glory--and if we are, we will rejoice in the true and just judgements of God! However, here and now, it reinforces the need to reach all peoples with the Gospel, so that none of them ever experience this separation from God.

God offers His salvation to everyone who confesses, repents and forsakes the sin in their life. Listen to the words of Jesus,
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28).

The not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).
The anguished words of our loving Jesus, just before His crucifixion concerning the rejection by the Jews of His gift of salvation dispels forever any thought of a cruel and arbitrary God who condemns myriads of hapless human beings without mercy to eternal burning torment.
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not (Matthew 23:37).
God is not ruthless, cruel and fearsome. He is merciful, long-suffering and patient. God proved His love by sending His Son to die for our salvation. May none of us reject nor neglect that priceless salvation.

Amen! This is what we believe!

(Category: The Church: Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus--The Church and other denominations
Soteriology: The Four Last Things--Hell)